$2.437 Million, Two-Year Grant Fuels the Sohn Collaborative for Pediatric Cancer Research to Understand and Fight Pediatric Leukemia and Neuroblastoma by Sequencing Genes of ‘Outlier’ Tumors
New York, NY (May 5, 2014) – The New York Genome Center (NYGC) and The Sohn Conference Foundation announced today the launch of The Sohn Collaborative for Pediatric Cancer Research, a multi-institutional effort with the goal of fighting two devastating childhood cancers: pediatric leukemia and neuroblastoma. This collaboration draws together some of New York City’s leading medical research organizations to advance the clinical understanding of these cancers.
The New York Genome Center will act as a nexus and participant in this research collaborative with five of its Institutional Founding Members: Columbia University, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York University School of Medicine, The Rockefeller University and Weill Cornell Medical College. NYGC will also conduct the genome sequencing and computational analysis for this synergistic research endeavor.
The Sohn Conference Foundation’s grant empowers these institutions to harness their collective knowledge and technology to apply genomic science to identify and analyze why some children’s tumors respond readily to treatment, while other patients suffer relapses or have no response at all. While leukemia and neuroblastoma are very different – leukemia affects blood and neuroblastoma is the commonest childhood solid tumor – researchers will pursue a similar approach to understand them. Sequencing the genomes of “outlier” tumors, those that have unusual responses to treatment, either good or bad, may yield valuable clues on how to fight these cancers more effectively.
“The Sohn Conference Foundation is proud to support this first-of-its-kind collaboration for pediatric cancer research in New York City. We are investing in some of the best scientists in the world, as they come together to solve our shared challenge to end childhood cancer,” said Evan Sohn, Founder of The Sohn Conference Foundation. “We have every confidence that the force of their great minds as applied to genomics will unleash discoveries of a new order.”
Childhood leukemia, cancer of the blood cells, is the most common form of cancer among children and teens. Each year, the disease affects more than 3,500 children in the U.S. and typically is diagnosed between the ages of two and ten.
Neuroblastoma, a malignant tumor that develops from nerve tissue, is the most common cause of cancer diagnosed in the first year of life, suggesting that it has strong genetic roots. Approximately 700 children are diagnosed with neuroblastoma each year in the United States.
“With generous financial support from The Sohn Conference Foundation and the alliance of outstanding researchers, we are poised to achieve remarkable advances in the understanding and treatment of these cancers,” said Dr. Robert B. Darnell, CEO, President and Scientific Director of the New York Genome Center. “This collaboration, which brings together some of the best minds in medicine and genomic research, is a game-changer in the fight against neuroblastoma and childhood leukemia.”
The “outlier” approach will focus on those patients whose tumors either respond particularly well or poorly to treatment. Researchers are hopeful that this process will lead to new and powerful treatments for these forms of pediatric cancer.
The New York Genome Center (NYGC), opened in 2013, is an independent, nonprofit research center based in New York City that focuses on transforming biomedical research and clinical care to advance basic and translational life science research. NYGC is a unique collaborative consortium including medical and research centers working to turn the concept of clinical care on its head to create a new approach to genomic medicine. Member institutions include: Albert Einstein College of Medicine, American Museum of Natural History, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Columbia University, Cornell University/Weill Cornell Medical College, Hospital for Special Surgery, The Jackson Laboratory, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, The New York Stem Cell Foundation, New York University, North Shore-LIJ, The Rockefeller University, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Stony Brook University and IBM. For more information, visit: www.nygenome.org.